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Guy in a fez with a monkey

Brandon Hodge's page

Contributor. RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter, 8 Season Star Voter. Pathfinder Society Member. 988 posts (1,054 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 1 alias.


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Kalindlara wrote:
If they're in Renchurch, though, it's banshee time. ^_^

That's just what I was thinking...

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Voomer wrote:
These things have been there for a long time and it must be well known among learned people interested in Vyrlich that teleportation just isn't a great option in that region. I think it is a bit of a flaw in the module that we GMs are supposed to be able to surprise PCs with this.

Unless you consider that everyone that's teleported in the past has never returned to report the danger... *twiddles fingers*

As for Renchurch's location, I suspect that given its origins, that is a much more accessible piece of knowledge, and I don't think I tried to imply it was particularly well-hidden. It's just dangerous as all hell, which is protection enough.

Also, to answer your original question: if PCs skip the Witchgates, I think the adventure suggests you place the encounters from the various locations in their path as they travel across Vyrlich.

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kevinadnd wrote:

I just got my copy of the Horror Adventures book and was looking at the new inquisitor archetypes (specifically the living grimoire). Well my question is thus, since they trade away all the judgement class features (for the Sacred Word ability), why do they keep the 17th level Slayer class feature that directly ties in with judgment?

Shouldn't they get something else to replace this class feature?

** spoiler omitted **

Well, that's a pesky oversight. The Slayer class ability was meant to be folded into the trade-out of either the Sacred Word or Blessed Script abilities, but looks like it didn't make it in my final draft.

The good news is that the archetype is unaffected. Until fixed in errata, Living Grimoires will receive an ability at 17th level they can't use. From a design and mechanical standpoint, however, the trade-off in losing that ability at 17th was that level 16 is pretty front-loaded, and that's when Living Grimoires get their +4 enchantment for Sacred Word, an extra spell for Blessed Script, and 6th-level spells.

So, an annoying omission, yes, but by no means one that affects the function of the archetype in any way.

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Saethori wrote:
I'm honestly thinking making a FAQ request regarding improvised weapons might be important at some point. It would be nice to get clarity, especially due to this new archetype.

I agree. I had a long-standing argument with my home GM over whether or not my grave-digging cleric of Pharasma with the Rough and Ready trait could enchant his shovel, and we went round and round. I imagine the conversations between enchanters and their pet magical energy going something like this:

Enchanter: "Hey there, Theoretically Sentient Magical Enchantment! I'd like to introduce you to this...axe! Make it magical, please?"

Theoretically Sentient Magical Enchantment: "No problem! Consider it +1!"

Enchanter: "Hey again! New week, new adventurer request! Looking for a another +1 enchantment out of you, this time on this druid's...sickle! Cool?"

Theoretically Sentient Magical Enchantment: "Yeah man, cool!"

Enchanter: "Hey yeah...so! This guy just brought me a stick. It's just a...you know...a big stick. Just a tree branch, really. Let's call it a...club. Wanna enchant it?"

Theoretically Sentient Magical Enchantment: "Yes of COURSE!"

Enchanter: "Soooo...me again. Just hoping you can help me out on yet another +1 today! You mind placing your magical energy in this...shovel?"

Theoretically Sentient Magical Enchantment: "What is the MATTER with you??? Hell no! I'm not going in THAT thing! Is an army of holes attacking the village? They getting damage reduction these days or what??? We are THROUGH!!!"

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Thomas Seitz wrote:
Ah! So if I'm 18th level this spell would last then...6 rounds?

The longest the spell can ever last is 4 rounds due to max damage dice. In fact, it last 4 rounds in every casting scenario except 7th level, which, as a 4th-level spell, is its minimum casting level:

15d6 (max damage dice) > 7d6 (always round down in PF) > 3d6 > 1d6 = 4

14d6 > 7d6 > 3d6 > 1d6 = 4

13d6 > 6d6 > 3d6 > 1d6 = 4

12d6 > 6d6 > 3d6 > 1d6 = 4

11d6 > 5d6 > 2d6 > 1d6 = 4

10d6 > 5d6 > 2d6 > 1d6 = 4

9d6 > 4d6 > 2d6 > 1d6 = 4

8d6 > 4d6 > 2d6 > 1d6 = 4

7d6 > 3d6 > 1d6 = 3

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Alchemaic wrote:

p 62-63 HAUNT COLLECTOR OCCULTIST

Extricate Haunt's base ability (creating a haunt) does not have a listed starting level. The later additions are noted to start at levels 12 and 16, but the base ability has no text to indicate when it becomes available.

I'm going to re-post the main points from the main Horror Adventures thread (see more detailed post here) to demonstrate why this is a non-errata issue:

1. Extricate Haunt is not a direct 1:1 swap with a specific 2nd level ability and *also* trades out with higher class abilities (at 12th & 16th). The ability specifies that it is for use with haunted implements (accessed as soon as 2nd level), making listing the specific level of accessibility redundant (and possibly misleading; see below).

2. Since you don't HAVE to get a haunted implement at 2nd level, you might not be able to use Extricate Haunt at 2nd level. Haunted implements are a fluid option ("he can gain access to a haunted implement") you can take as early as 2nd level, but you don't *have* to. For this reason, the Extricate Haunt ability has to remain similarly fluid and level-unspecific. Because if you don't take the option to get a haunted implement until 6th level, you can't use Extricate Haunt until then, either.

3. The archetype already has an 8th-level replacement ability (Spirit Speaker), and if Extricate Haunt was *also* an 8th-level class ability replacement (as proposed in the other thread), it would be listed alphabetically, and come *before* Spirit Speaker. It does not.

But if you feel more clarification is in order, maybe mark that one for FAQ.

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Alchemaic wrote:
Gisher wrote:
Alchemaic wrote:
Gisher wrote:
At what level is the Haunt Collector's Extricate Haunt ability supposed to be available? From its placement in the archetype description and the abilities that it replaces, I think it was intended to start at 8th level, but it doesn't explicitly say that.
I think it's always supposed to be there starting at level 2 when you can begin picking up haunted implements.

That was my first thought, but...

(1) Archetype features are normally listed in order of the levels when they are first acquired...

(2) Archetype features that replace other features are normally acquired at the same levels...

So I'm having an Occam's Razor moment...

Well that's another thing on the errata pile then.

I'm not in a position to give you an official answer on this, but there's also a few reasons its formatted as it is that might ease your concerns:

Extricate Haunt is the haunt collector's signature ability, and was designed to be usable as soon as the archetype is capable of gaining haunted implements, which is 2nd level. But since it isn't a direct 1:1 swap with a specific 2nd level ability and *also* trades out with higher class abilities (at 12th & 16th), and the ability specifies that it is for use with haunted implements (which, again, you get access to at 2nd), it felt redundant (and possibly misleading; see below) to call out the level the ability begins, since you can use it once you get Possessed Possessions. As soon as 2nd level.

There's some important parsing there: ALSO keep in mind that you don't HAVE to get a haunted implement at 2nd level. It's an option: "he can gain access to a haunted implement." It would be silly to take this archetype and not take advantage of all the abilities, but it *is* a fluid option, and for this reason, the ability that plays off this option has to remain similarly fluid and level-unspecific. Because if you don't take the option to get a haunted implement until 6th level, you can't use Extricate Haunt until then. So there's that.

Also note that the archetype already has an 8th-level replacement ability (Spirit Speaker), and if Extricate Haunt was *also* an 8th-level class ability replacement, it would be listed alphabetically, and come *before* Spirit Speaker. It does not.

Given that the created haunt's destruction shuts down access to important abilities for the day, I felt that was a suitable balancing factor for earlier level entry.

As the final text matches what I turned over with only minor edits (and Mark sharing some kind words with me on its design at Gen Con), I would think the developers agreed with this design decision and the formatting. But if you feel more clarification is in order, maybe mark that one for FAQ.

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Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
...the Occultist options aren't all terrible in their mechanical benefits, they're just laugh out loud bad in what you have to do to get and keep them. A fair universe would award you a couple of mythic tiers for pulling that stuff off.

The occultist archetypes have been pretty well received and the critique doesn't seem to match the mechanics. Are you sure you're talking about the right class?

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Axial wrote:
Brandon, I've always been a fan of your work, especially since you shared your knowledge and expertise of occult topics at Paizocon '15. Once again, you show great talent and imagination when it comes to turning fantastical and mythological concepts into rules and mechanics.

Thank you for the kind words there, Axial. Between Occult Adventures last year and Horror Adventures this year, I've had a great time playing around with my favorite topics for Paizo, cross-pollinating my interests between esoteric history and game design, so it's been a lot of fun. It's awesome when the design team just unlocks the cell door and lets you roam the asylum to write things like Inquisitors who whack enemies with holy books and Occultists who collect haunted artifacts. Hahaha. I also had the privilege of collaborating with Alex Riggs on both the Environment chapter and the Dread Lords template discussed here, and we tossed that template back and forth a couple dozen times to dial it in just right to make that symbiosis with our Environment chapter and my Domains of Evil section work as well as it does. The template's Hit Dice-based Special Attacks menu was a particularly brilliant bit of design Alex envisioned that restructured how spell-like abilities can be awarded to creatures, and I think it will serve as the pattern for a lot of future template design. Great stuff, and I am glad to hear it's being well-received so far!

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Axial wrote:
What's the skinny on the Domain Lord?

It's actually a pair of templates: the Dread Lord template and the more powerful (but imprisoned in its realm) Cursed Lord. As you'd expect, these creatures are deeply and intrinsically tied to a parcel of land that makes up their domain (which grows in size as their HD increases). I won't give the full run-down here, but they get some tasty defensive abilities, significant attribute boosts, and a fear aura while in their lands, and little goes on within the domain that they don't know about, whether through various speak with _____ spells or through other magical divinations they are gifted with. Their power and malign influence extends to the animals, plants, and even weather within their lands, and they can haunt the dreams of trespassers within their realm and possibly dominate them. Dread Lords can leave their lands at the cost of all that power (they lose all benefit when out of their realm), while Cursed Lords are trapped within their realm, unable to die and unable to leave by any means unless very specific conditions are fulfilled to alleviate the curse.

My favorite part of the templates, however, is the One with the Land ability, which allows the Lords to customize their domain to suite their individual natures by seeding them with a host of environmental effects and supernatural hazards you can choose from any source, including all the creepy and dangerous new threats found in the Environment chapter (it's 12 pages of godless voids, zombie-animating fogs, haunted battlfields, and sentient bloodthirsty forests!). Furthermore, the Environment chapter contains an entry for Domains of Evil, which morphs the land in other ways depending on the power of its lord, so that just as creatures taking the template change to reflect their lands, so, too, does the land change to reflect their corrupt master. This symbiosis between rules mechanics makes the template incredibly flavorful and thematic, with tons of options to get a lot of mileage out of those pages. And, yes, there's a dread fog supernatural hazard that will be eerily familiar to some folks.

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Xethik wrote:

Looking at the archetype itself again, I totally missed that you

could play some Lovecraftian tome wielder, not just a holy zealot of your god. Minor reflavoring, sure, but a very interesting premise for me. Brandon Hodge did a great job with that one! Fits multiple themes of the horror archetypes. Using the word of their god to smite foes or inflicting madness (and pain) with eldritch tomes!

Thanks for that! Excited to see this one out in the world. In my home games, I almost always play a wizard with the Rough & Ready trait that lets me use tools of my trade as weapons, take some ranks in scribe, and whack the hell out of opponents with my spellbook.

When Stephen asked me for some archetype ideas for the Inquisitor, I recalled my fondness for that trick, and said: "How about an archetype that imparts the word of their God in the most violent way possible--by beating it mercilessly into enemies with his holy book?"

Luckily, Stephen and Mark share my penchant for tome-based violence and holy-word hostilities. Now it's yours! ;-)

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What a fantastic resource! THANK YOU, Rob! I hope it will be put to good use by others running The House on Hook Street.

Thank you for the kind words (and great review!) as well. HoHS is indeed a complicated adventure, full of twists and turns and betrayals, and, like you, I believe it is worth the effort to run properly, and there's a lot of value in the gameplay of this one. I will note a couple of clarifications in your prep document: 1) Drune is not Myra's father. He was an early suitor (he lost out to Nahum) and her intimations lured him into using his family's funds to sponsor the expedition to the Mindspin Mountains, and 2) the dreamstone does not actually offer immortality, but rather power over the Dimension of Dreams, which is what Nahum's trying to claim. The immortality offered to *some* cult members (the most devoted leadership only, not everyone) is a power granted by the spider idol itself, and is part of the idol ruleset.

Hope that helps. Thank you for putting together this great prep document--wish I'd had it when I ran my playtests!

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You guys just keep on ignoring Ghlaunder's write-up in this thread. By the time those bumps on the back of your necks start to itch, it'll be far too late... =-)

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Lucky you! You've managed to catch the creator of the troop subtype, who wrote it for Paizo after years of tweaking in his home games, sitting around bored on a Saturday morning with nothing better to do than offer some messageboard advice and insight to his fellow gamers. I've used this incredibly versatile mechanic to create everything from roving hordes of bloodthirsty ghouls to bands of healing battlefield medics, from armored knights on horseback to packs of spectral ghost hounds. There's a secret to building effective and memorable troops, and the REALLY important thing you have to keep in mind is...

...wait, did you say "hideously generic?"

Oh boy, would'ya look at the time...

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Back!!!

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Same for me on iPhone 6, same iOS, AT&T. Been that way since the heavy traffic banner went up.

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Just sayin': Occult Adventures has 6 awesome iconics. Throw a bonus phantom figure in there in clear green plastic and it's a hit!

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Given the chance to do it all again, I'd consider going Occultist that's heavy on Transmutation and laden with implements and relics from Tar-Baphon's life.

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Yossarin, I am so thrilled to hear that someone else also uses those haunt-communication materials (that originally appeared in one of my first AP articles for Carrion Crown, and later reprinted in Occult Mysteries and Occult Adventures) in their home game. I wrote all that stuff and those rules are very dear to me, mostly because they are one of the closest approximations of real-world, historical Spiritualist beliefs in the game. Thank you for putting that stuff to such great use and recommending it to others!

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What you're missing here, Statboy, is that haunts can be damaged and temporarily destroyed with channeled positive energy, cure spells, holy water, etc (see the links Urath posted above), so PCs do have a chance to temporarily disable/dismiss a haunt if they can reduce it to 0 hit points before the effect triggers. OR they can continue damaging it as the effect goes off in subsequent rounds, possibly ending the effect when the haunt is reduced to 0.

You're right that PCs can't determine a haunt's means of permanent destruction and perform those actions in a matter of combat rounds, but they can still damage the haunt in various ways, reduce it to 0 hit points, and make it go away, then figure out how to permanently lay it to rest (if they choose to do so) before its reset time comes back around.

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Sounds awesome, Matthew! There's a lot of stuff to work with in this one, so I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Kalindlara, ectoplasm and its use is one thing Mr. Mignola gets very, very right from a historical perspective, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for both Hellboy and his other work. Unlike many writers who have Ghostbusters-like conceptions of ectoplasm as nothing more than sticky green snot spirits leave behind like a snail's trail, he understands its historical significance and the underlying theories about how exctoplasm was *supposed* to work, and Goodbye, Mr. Tod is a fantastic example of that understanding at play. The mechanics of Johann Kraus are similarly spot-on, as is the character of Eustace St. John from Zombieworld, who's an ectoplasmatist archetype Spiritualist if there ever was one! I even have a half-completed blog post I promise to post before too long that studies Mignola's use of ectoplasm from a historical perspective. Stay tuned!

I wouldn't be surprised if that specific story didn't worm its way into my brain to inspire the Dreamspawn Creature template, but mostly I've been driven by a fascination with creatures that have a symbiotic relationship with their dead victims, and drag their corpses along with them. I played with this in some of the corpse-dangling daddy-longlegs spidery creations I did for 0One Games a while back, a few home-game beasties, and now this. I wanted the initial encounter to be surprising, unknown, and terrifying, and I figured a starving spectral dream-fog-thing erupting from the broken jaws of a murder victim was as good a way as anything to get things started!

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When we were brainstorming classes for Occult Adventures, we kind of took the historical abilities of real-world mediums and pried the spiritual (channeling) and the physical (ectoplasmic) aspects apart in what would eventually settle into the Medium and Spiritualist classes. And that worked out pretty well with the split between the Astral and Ethereal concentrations and how they influenced classes in the book. But if I were going to hybrid-ize something, I'd probably try to put them back together somewhat as a Medium/Spiritualist hybrid class, with the class being able to get the benefits of their legendary spirit when channeling it like a Medium, but being able to manifest the legend in ectoplasmic form like a Spiritualist's phantom. And that's *kind of* how the Spiritualist works already, with the benefits of the incorporeal spirit, but I think they could be re-synthesized in a pretty interesting way.

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baron arem heshvaun wrote:

Hi Brandon, how tied into Korvosa is this adventure?

Could this adventure be transplanted whole cloth into Ustalav?

Could this adventure be shoe horned into the Carrion Crown AP, and if it can, how would you tie it in t the events therein and with Advidon Adrisant?

Hey there! Lemme spoiler my reply:

Spoiler:

You could indeed transplant this entire adventure to Ustalav without too much trouble--you'll just lose some of the canonical callouts and connections like Barvasi's Boys and Chittersnap, but that's OK. One of the core background events as written is the blood veil riots and the quarantine in Korvosa from Curse of the Crimson Throne, and the reverberating after-effects of a government betraying its own people. Short version: when both church and state turn their back on the poor, the poor turn their back on them. Looking for a similar situation in Ustalav, I would say the death of the Eunuch Prince and abandonment of Ardis in Ustalav and the shift of the capital from their to Calpiphas might stoke some similar rebellion and resentment in the former capital, and you've got 30 years for the population to stew and simmer.

The city you use will definitely have to be perched on water, so Ardis' location on the Senir River will serve perfectly. Another option is to sub the entire island of Old Korvosa for the city of Karcau on Lake Prophyria--with limited canon on that location you can do whatever the heck you want! Of course, Caliphas' location on Avalon Bay makes it a good candidate, too, but you may want to save it since Ashes at Dawn takes place there, unless you want to make Caliphas a little more of a home base for the AP. Overall, any metropolitan area perched on water should do, so long as you have a poor ghetto increasingly crowded from gentrification and stoked fires of resentment among the poor, which is the framing for wholesale turn toward the occult.

The level spread is 6-9th, which put this closest to the levels of Broken Moon if you're looking for a sub (sorry, Hitch!). Or just jimmy with experience points, slow it down a little since you're in the sweet spot, and do them both! Motivation should be easy, and have the Brotherhood of the Spider in league with the Whispering Way. Maybe have Judge Daramid direct PCs toward this adventure rather than Broken Moon--just make sure that there's a connection with the Whispering Way, ultimately, perhaps with a rumor that Adivion recently met with the leader of a powerful cult (Nahum Caligaro, recently-exiled leader of the Brotherhood of the Spider) who disappeared mysteriously after the meeting, with a host of strange occurrences in the wake of his disappearance. You'll know what to do with the rest!

You *could* make the Brotherhood of the Spider a branch of the Whispering Way, if you really wanted to have the PCs take on a sect of the cult that they don't have too many encounters with leading up to the finale (a common complaint about Carrion Crown being that PCs are always frustratingly one step behind the WW until the very end, and this could help alleviate that feeling). And two, it wouldn't take much more than a slight thematic shift to make the idol at the center of the Brotherhood's worship connected to Urgathoa: it could become a fly, for instance, and the cult becomes the Brotherhood of the Fly instead, which is actually pretty damned cool (and you'll want to cross-reference the Urgathoan Fly encounter from Shadows of Gallowspire for inspiration and redundancy-prevention).

My mind is kind of rolling with some cool ideas here, and I don't want to wall-of-text you guys any more than I already have. Mostly, I think there's a really great opportunity here to add some cool elements to the AP and help plug some of its perceived plot deficiencies! So glad you brought it up! If you have any other questions, let me know...

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I had totally forgotten about the floor-hacking incident until Adam brought it up!

(Again, things changed enough that this isn't spoiler material):

The PCs made it through the first few rooms and, as Adam's recollection reminds me, had set the front foyer alight with a smashed lantern that was part of a trap. They moved deeper into the house, and things started to get weird in the main downstairs chamber. There were a few ways to go that had not yet been explored, and I think some taxidermy on the wall had turned and started talking to one of the PCs. While the player was trying to explain this strangeness to the other party members who couldn't hear the jabbering elk head, some strange giggling children with eyes leaking silver vapors started hamstringing the party and stealing random items as they popped in and out of existence. They were re-flavored ethereal filchers (or, you know, kid thieves that got drunk on the guild's tainted supply of potions of displacement). Since they kept phasing out and running around, the party was pretty frustrated trying to corner them.

In the middle of all this, one of the PCs made their Perception--errr...I mean Listen--check, and heard the ceiling creak a little bit from some movement in the story above.

So--like ya do--a PC jumped on a nearby table and started hacking at the ceiling to access the floor above. It was one of those classic inexplicable and utterly perplexing decisions only a desperate PC at the game table can make. There were lots of other exits, but this player decided the only way to escape the freaky silver-eyed giggling children-thieves was to hack through the ceiling to get away. The effort didn't succeed, but their decision did cement itself as a running joke at our game table that's persisted to this day. Good times!

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Nullpunkt wrote:

I have a Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign going and intend to fit this module in at the end of part 2.

Is there any piece of information that comes to mind that I could slip him? Anything that might be picked up again or expanded upon by the module?

Hey there, Nullpunkt! I plan to address this with a big thread when the adventure debuts, but in the meantime I think I can give you the information you need even though the adventure isn't out yet--but let's spoiler it just in case:

Spoiler:

As written, the events of HoHS take place 7 years after the blood veil riots, but it will be a simple matter to adjust to fit your needs, as I actually anticipated people doing just what you are. In the adventure, the secret you hint at (and the eventual results) is actually a very important background aspect of the occult revival that takes place in Old Korvosa. The poorer citizenry, abandoned by the government and church, and devoid of the charity and sponsorship of their benefactors in the family you mention, turn toward occultism in the wake of the events of CotCT. Seven years later, it has taken firm hold on Old Korvosa, and Bridgefront in particular.

You'll certainly need to account for the shift in that triggering event that leads to the occult revival, or just have players start noticing more fortune tellers and weird cult members on the streets after the riots. You'll also find some familiar faces and family names in HoHS--and need to account for the events in your own campaign to work them in properly. Most importantly, the major players in the shiver trade have shifted in a BIG way in the 7-year gap, so you'll need to make some adjustments depending on how the relevant events in your campaign settled out.

And that may be the best bit of info to let slip: a rumor that the Eel's End isn't the be-all-end-all of the shiver trade, and that there's an insidious cult that's much higher up on the food chain that's come to the forefront after Barvasi's fall. And when they take over the drug trade with Barvasi out of the way, things get much worse for Old Korvosa.

Does that help? I have little doubt that the second you read the adventure's background and see the players involved, you'll know exactly what to do! =-)

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Richard, I'm afraid the line to the brazen bull has grown quite long even at this early hour. We're still stoking the fires. Have we shared what they're *actually* in for?

Wait--can they read this???

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Thomas Seitz wrote:
Does it happen to mention anything about say, evil outsiders posing as idols?

While it is not explicitly spelled out in the idol creation rules, the possessing entity of an idol that gives it its spark of divinity (a spark that lingers even when it loses all its worshipers) is left nebulous, so GMs are free to explore that territory with their creations. The item possession rules from Occult Adventures could allow for some interesting circumstances with idols as well.

Spoiler:

And while we're at risk of over-promoting House on Hook Street in this thread, you will definitely want to keep an eye out for how these rules play out in that adventure, and the circumstances that might give rise to an idol that are certainly pertinent to your interests. ;-)

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Jack of Dust wrote:
PS: I just want to congratulate whoever designed the idol worshipping rules in Occult Realms. The mechanics are brilliant and I hope we see more of it in the future!

Thank you! Idols are one of my favorite mechanics I crafted for my home campaign, and we just couldn't let all this occult goodness come around without getting them in the mix somewhere. And definitely stay tuned for House on Hook Street!

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Tunguska.

I think I talked about this on one of the radio shows once, but I tried hard to work some time-shifting cataclysmic event into the adventure that would have accounted for the Tunguska Event. Since it was 10 years previous on the timeline, my thought was that the impact event was actually Baba Yaga's Hut briefly arriving on Earth while skipping through time before coming to rest in 1918. But we decided that time-hopping wasn't a property of the Hut, so I had to discard that fun little nugget. =-)

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So this morning I continue my descent into the entries, and loving what I'm seeing so far. I think for all contestants, you can see just how tough this really is for writers, and the sorts of design hurdles I had to tackle when writing Rasputin Must Die. It's hard enough just trying to create a memorable villain for an AP adventure. There's always such scrutiny from the rabid fans of Paizo's Adventure Paths and you always want to deliver. And I'd learned some hard lessons earlier in my career about a villain's role in an adventure. Because, as it turns out, you don't really get to know a villain when they (and in the case of my first AP work, Shadows of Gallowspire) are literally the last guy you fight in the tallest tower, who might last 5 rounds, if he's lucky. Not a lot of depth in the PCs' experience or interaction there.

So I approached this one knowing from the get-go that I wanted to follow a model more like what I'd done in Dead Heart of Xin, and have a villain you really get to know. And what an opportunity and a head-start, because in this case, it just so happened that everyone already knew this adventure's villain, and Rasputin's reputation would already far precede him. And that was a lot to live up to, as well, getting both the history right, and trying to present a fantastic (and very high-level) version of the Mad Monk that would make sense with what we already knew about him.

And my role as one of the judges is to gauge exactly that. Did your entry consider the many interactions Rasputin needs to have with PCs to make the adventure successful, and have some insurance for him to sidestep the instant death that can often befall villains that make their presence known too early in adventures (PCs are a wily, clever bunch, after all!)? Did it take into account the historical abilities attributed to Rasputin that readers will expect to see? Are your class choices, abilities, and spell selections appropriate so that if fans decide to substitute the published statblock for the winning entry, it'll fit somewhat seamlessly?

So that's my role. I won't be reviewing accuracy of mechanics or statblock math--that's another judge's role--but will be looking for certain thematic checkpoints, and submitting my recommendations based on that review. So wish me--and all the entrants--good luck!!!

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What a fantastic set of entries!

I didn't want to comment too much while the contest was in progress, lest I corrupt the whole process, but just wanted to let everyone know that I'm duly impressed and can't wait to start really reading through now that all the entries. It's kind of intimidating, actually, and choosing between the entries is going to be really tough! I'm not the only judge, but my role is mostly going to be gauging which entries hit the best thematic fits with both the adventure's needs and historical Rasputin. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me!

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I'm really excited for everyone to get their hands on this one! As we get a little closer to its debut, I'll be sharing some tales from playtesting, what elements you can expect to see from Occult Adventures, and what it was like to work with one of my best friends as developer!

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Geez, you folks are brutal! Keep up the fantastic entries--wish I'd had all these toys to play with!

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I can't believe that this late in the life of this adventure that this is the first time this mistake has been pointed out to me.

The cartographer made one of two mistakes: he meant to increase the size of the squares of the overview map on page 24, and make each square worth 10 feet, or he simply mislabeled the scale as 10-ft.

Because each square on the overview map on page 24 is supposed to be 5 feet. The chapel, for example, should be 155-feet long, and the barracks 90 feet long.

So go by the dimensions of the map on page 38 for the interiors, and for the love of god swap the scale back to its intended scale of 1 sq=5 ft on the page 24 overview map.

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Kalindlara wrote:
Also, a big thank-you to whoever added the new haunt modifiers in Occult Adventures.

You're welcome! ;-)

It was actually conversations like this one in the Carrion Crown threads over the last few years that led to that chapter.

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Phylotus wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
Phylotus wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
See above. If you put the +2 in Con rather than what you'd expect (his casting stat), it comes out to 20 PB.
Ok, with that though how does he end up at 26 Charisma at 18th level? Even with the +4 from levels, I'm only counting a 24 by that point

...Hrm. Good catch.

Yeah, f@@! if I know then.

Brandon Hodge, your weighing in on this quandary would be much appreciated :-)

OK. I hope this doesn't get me in trouble with Liz, buuuuuut since we're talking about the old statblock and not necessarily how you'd build yours, I'll say two things:

1. These stats are slightly developed from my original turnover, which started with the heroic array adjusted for age category and spell use [see below]. But after edits, they don't match, so I don't really know any more than you do, BUT...

2. It turns out miracle works...well, miracles. My original turnover has a note that through the use of the spell Rasputin permanently boosted his Con by +4. I imagine the Rob or Adam may have used a similar tactic in development, though I cannot confirm nor deny that because I seriously don't know.

Make of that what you will!

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j b 200 wrote:
I have to say, the stitched soul ability is awesome. Who ever came up with that must have been cackling all day after writing it up.

All day? Hell, I still chuckle every time I think of the looks of despair on the faces of PCs, once smug in their falsely-assumed victories, when Rasputin returns to life. It's what I wake up for in the morning! ;-)

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Fromper wrote:
Another thing I did, to keep things moving along faster, was to have them each roll 40 or 50 d20s and write down the results on a single sheet for me. I recorded their bonuses to init, will, perception, and whatever else I thought might come up (don't remember now - it was a year ago). That way, I didn't have to slow the haunt action to have them make the rolls - I just checked my page and crossed off the next number as it was used.

This is my FAVORITE gamplay-smoothing tactic for any game, and I highly recommend doing this, haunts or not. PCs get to have their own rolls used, and GMs can glide smoothly through Perception checks and subtle saving throws without messing up the narrative flow. Works particularly well for haunts, too!

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My favorite occult antagonists are humans, personally. There's no greater horror than what man's own mind and machinations can create, and all that. Especially when someone gets in over their head with powers with which they should not be trifling, which brings me to:

The subtler devils and daemons. The possessive sort, if you get my drift, which leads right back up to my primary preferred antagonists.

I [obviously] enjoy liberal use of ghosts, spirits, haunts, and poltergeists, and the new medium and spiritualist classes open up a whole new world of antagonists who play with the spectral sort of entity.

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Since no one else has mentioned it, the rules for haunt interaction were modified in Occult Adventures to include those otherwise immune to their effects so they can still experience them. And there are some other goodies there as well. Check out that chapter!

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9mm wrote:
never said it was true, all I said is just because Brandon doesn't agree doesn't mean people can't be disappointed at a grand total of 9 class agnostic feats; and if that's what they think, they should say so. The by-line matters.

You can be as disappointed as you like, 9mm. Like anyone, you're entitled to your opinion, and free to express it. I'm just trying to keep everyone honest.

But that isn't the issue. The issue is you stating your opinion with the assumption that everyone else will share it--that if something doesn't suite you, it won't suite anyone else--and that's where you're wrong, as a host of positive comments here and reviews both good and bad demonstrate. There's material in this book suited for a wide range of playstyles--just because it isn't to your taste doesn't mean others "probably won't" find something suited to their own enjoyment. Heck--even Scavion, whose comments parked my response, found a few gems, and that's great, even if I don't agree with his misleading assertion that a book with 100+ pages of new class content for players is "geared more towards DMs."

You've essentially said "I bought this box of 64 crayons and didn't like any of the colors, and you probably won't either." That's just...well...the essence of hyperbole.

Also note your feat count for non-occult classes is way off.

EDIT: Kinda awesome to see someone post while I was replaying about how they liked every color in the box of crayons.

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9mm wrote:
Brandon Hodge wrote:
So with 24 feats, 22 archetypes, 56 spells, piles of rituals, pages worth of skill unlocks, chakra unlocks usuable by non-psychic classes right now, and nearly 100 new magic items, saying "very few feats and other options to consider for a character already built" is disingenuous at best, and at worst threatens to turn away those who are otherwise enthusiastic about the content but being giving the wrong impression that they won't find anything useful. Just because you didn't find anything useful doesn't mean someone else won't.
Quantity does not equal quality; and people have gotten really good at shifting through the junk to get to the gold. it isn't disingenuous at all to say " I found nothing, and you probably won't either"

Given the incredibly huge range of tastes and interests in the gaming community, such blanket statements are the very definition of disingenuous.

The statement should end at "I found nothing [for me]." Everything afterward is false assumption and hyperbole.

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Sorry I pointed you out/quoted you directly, Sarisan. You just happened to be the one closest in-thread to express that sort of sentiment, and glad to hear the book's good outweighs the bad for you. I mostly posted for the benefit of those that might be left with the impression that there's no new content for their current characters, as other reviewers have engaged in even worse hyperbole for non-occult classes that's off-putting at best:

Beckett wrote:
It's also disappointing just how little it seems to focus on playing "occult" games outside of the new classes, and offers rather little for everyone else...
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Almost nothing for the old character classes.
Beckett wrote:
If you wanted more options for non-"occult" characters, it's really not for you (0-1 star).

This sort of talk isn't helpful for anyone, of course, and, as the numbers demonstrate, sure as hell isn't accurate. As Third Mind says above, not everything's for everyone, but that doesn't mean that a turn-off for one person isn't an exciting prospect for someone else...

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I know the conversation's moved a little past this, but I wanted to address comments like this one:

Scavion wrote:
My beef with the book is that it offers little to nothing for existing material to be used with. Very few feats and other options to consider for a character already built.

That lead to comments like this one:

Bloodrealm wrote:
All I'm seeing is complaints of everything in the book being incredibly underpowered and worthless, if flavourful, to the point where it's probably not worth the flavour to be so worthless. It's really killing my interest...

And provide some numbers I looked up on my flight home from GenCon, my contributor copy in hand.

While it's true that new classes and their archetypes take up just shy of 100 pages of this 260+ page book, and only 24 of the 68 feats are for general use by other classes, that dismisses the incredible amount of content for use by all classes that are in this book's pages.

For old classes, there are 22 new archetypes.

There's 113 new spells, and 56 (almost exactly half) are usable by non-occult spellcasting classes. The new occult rules chapter is 21 pages of auras, chakras, psychic dueling, possession, and rituals that are usable by all classes. AND there's the occult skill unlocks, which with 1 feat (Psychic Sensitivity) open up a whole new world of abilities for anyone who qualifies and wants to buy their way into occult abilities, any class at any level.

The Running an Occult Game chapter is 27 pages of great advice for running occult games with or without the new classes, and includes new rules for haunts, loci spirits, planar explorations, etc.

And of the 21 pages of new magic items, totaling 104 new items, only 11 are occult-class specific, leaving 93 occult-themed items there for the taking!

So with 24 feats, 22 archetypes, 56 spells, piles of rituals, pages worth of skill unlocks, chakra unlocks usuable by non-psychic classes right now, and nearly 100 new magic items, saying "very few feats and other options to consider for a character already built" is disingenuous at best, and at worst threatens to turn away those who are otherwise enthusiastic about the content but being giving the wrong impression that they won't find anything useful. Just because you didn't find anything useful doesn't mean someone else won't.

Ravingdork wrote:
I really list this book for the most part. Pyschic and occult stuff isn't really my cup of tea, but man does the content in this book stand out. It's so new, so different, it's kind of refreshing.

*fistbump*

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If anyone'd asked me there might have been! ;-)

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Brandon Hodge wrote:
Please please pretty please folks can we move the deep mechanical kineticist discussions over to the Kineticist Preview Thread as we asked previously? Thanks!

Is there really just no hope of you folks taking the deep mechanical kineticist talk and build breakdowns elsewhere? Follow the link above and argue to your hearts' content. Start a new thread. Please just do something other than arguing with one another over the deeper intricacies of the kineticist class. It is a significant and undoubtedly popular part of this book, but also only a fraction of the content. Your argument has dominated the discussion and drowned out other topics of interest, and there are other avenues and forums on these boards to have those debates. Please. Mark will answer you there as well as he has here. He promises! :-)

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Please please pretty please folks can we move the deep mechanical kineticist discussions over to the Kineticist Preview Thread as we asked previously? Thanks!

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Fourshadow wrote:
Brandon, Stephen and you actually did some design/development of this book here in Tulsa?!

We most certainly did! We became cellar dwellers for several days and hashed out a lot of the concepts from the initial outline Erik and I had put together, and took the first steps toward making a thick stack of wild esoteric ideas a developmental reality. We had a blast camping out with the material and brainstorming, and that Tulsa trip was a high point of my creative endeavors thus far!

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See? Speak of the devil and he appears!

(Ben likely has a ritual for that, too)

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